Nazareth baseball coach Steven Moore will leave at seasons end and return to his family farm in Sunray. He and the Swifts will play in the Class 1A regional championship starting Thursday against Westbrook. [Mackenzie Teal/ Press Pass Sports]
It’s a bitter sweet time for Nazareth head baseball coach Steven Moore.
The Swifts (21-3 overall) are in the midst of their best playoff push since 2002, and are only two wins away from playing in the program’s first ever University Interscholastic League state tournament when they take on Westbrook (13-3) in a Class 1A regional final with a best-of-3 series starting 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Frenship In Wolfforth.
But for Moore, regardless of how Nazareth finishes this incredible playoff run it will be his final time to coach the Swifts after four years at the helm. Moore resigned his position in January and will move back to his hometown of Sunray to rejoin his family in the farming business.
“Family what is pulling me back,” Moore said. “We’ve had some things go on over the past year, so my wife and I felt getting back closer to family was the best option for us right now.”
Moore has made himself at home in the close-knit community of Nazareth. Moore fit in with his hard work and dedication to winning that matches the standard of all the Swifts programs. Over his four years, Moore guided the football team to a 17-11 record, while going 40-20 on the baseball diamond.
“I can’t say enough about the things coach Moore has done for our program,” Nazareth athletic director and girls basketball coach Eric Schilling said. “He’s a workhorse that goes above and beyond anything that is asked of him. We’ve been very fortunate to have him here, and he’s someone we’ll miss. He’s definitely left his mark and I think Nazareth is better because of him.”
The decision to go back and farm didn’t come easy for Moore. Though farming is his passion, he’s grown to love Nazareth and student-athletes he gets to work with on a daily basis.
“It was very difficult to leave,” Moore said. “It took us about two months to make a decision on whether we should go back to Sunray. At first I thought it was a hard to choice to take the job here, but now it’s harder to leave.
“The people make this place what it is. It’s the parents buying in and wanting their kids to be successful, and wanting them to work their hardest to do their best. It has been generations like that here in Nazareth. It’s not something that just happened.”
Moore and his team now have the unique opportunity to go where no Nazareth baseball team has ever gone. The Swifts last played in a regional final in 2002, and his players are eager to make history with their coach by getting to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
“We want to leave a legacy for him,” said senior catcher/ pitcher Aiden Moore. “He’s done a great job for our team. We just want to go out for him as strong as we can.”
Moore’s teammate and Nazareth pitcher, Kaden Cleavinger agreed.
“He’s one of the most hard working coaches I’ve been around,” Cleavinger said. “He strategizes well, and always has us prepared. He works on our field constantly and has it looking better than it ever has. We’re lucky to have him as seniors. He’s a great person and coach.”
Nazareth has hired Ira graduate and Littlefield assistant Tyler Goodwin to takeover the football and baseball programs next fall.
Game 2 of the regional finals with Westbrook is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday, with a possible Game 3, if necessary scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday all at Frenship.